Seven works by Jonathan Budington are known, dating from about 1796 to 1802. The earliest, View of the Cannon House and Wharf, is inscribed Jonathan Budington Pinxt / John Cannon / 1792 and was probably painted for the son of John Cannon, Jr., a New York merchant living in Norwalk, Connecticut. The other six are portraits: four signed J. Budington Pinxt in red paint, and two attributed to his hand.
There were several Jonathan Budingtons in America at the turn of the nineteenth century. One from Fairfield, Connecticut, is thought to be the artist because four of the seven works are portraits of residents of that town. This Jonathan Budington was related to the sitters in George Eliot and Family, one of the two attributed works, which lends further credence to the suggestion that he was the painter.
Jonathan Budington of Fairfield, the son of Walter and Ruth Couch Budington, was baptized on 15 August 1779. He married Sarah Peck Barnes, a widow, in 1820 and their only child was born the following year. He died in New Haven on 21 January 1823 at age 43.
No known documents indicate his professsion. He may be the Budington noted by William Dunlap as having painted portraits in New York in 1798, and listed in New York City directories as a portrait painter from 1800 to 1805 and from 1809 to 1812, but New York portraits by his hand have not come to light. [This is an edited version of the artist's biography published in the NGA Systematic Catalogue]
Schloss 1972, 34.
Little 1976, 68-73.
Freedman, Paula B. "In the Presence of Strangers: Jonathan Budington's Portrait of George Eliot and Family." Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin 40 (Spring 1988): 22-29.
Chotner, Deborah, with contributions by Julie Aronson, Sarah D. Cash, and Laurie Weitzenkorn. American Naive Paintings. The Collections of the National Gallery of Art Systematic Catalogue. Washington, D.C., 1992: 35.